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Arctic sea ice minimum shatters all-time record low, report University of Colorado scientists

Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center said today that the extent of Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum for 2007 on Sept. 16, shattering all previous lows since satellite record-keeping began nearly 30 years ago.

The Arctic sea ice extent on Sept. 16 stood at 1.59 million square miles, or 4.13 million square kilometers, as calculated using a five-day running average, according to the team. Compared to the long-term minimum average from 1979 to 2000, the new minimum extent was lower by about 1 million square miles -- an area about the size of Alaska and Texas combined, or 10 United Kingdoms, they reported.

©telegraph.co.uk
Photographs taken in September 2005 and 2007

The minimum also breaks the previous minimum set on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 of 2005 by about 460,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of Texas and California combined, or five United Kingdoms, they found. The sea ice extent is the total area of all Arctic regions where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean surface.

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Raging fires: Four firefighters dead in Syria

Four firefighters died battling forest fires that have been raging in northern Syria since Wednesday, said the official news agency.

Planes from neighbouring Turkey had joined Syrian teams to try to contain the fires, which had spread to the area around the main road between the trading hub of Aleppo and the port of Latakia on the Mediterranean, the agency said.

Evil Rays

Bats may use magnetic polarity for navigation

Researchers have found that bats have a special ability to detect the polarity of a magnetic field, meaning that the creatures can tell the difference between north and south. The only other animal known to have this ability is the mole rat, while birds, fish, amphibians, and all other non-mammals possess a different version of the magnetic compass.

The finding may not only explain bats' long-distance navigation and foraging abilities, but also may provide insight on when and how magnetic field detection evolved in mammals and non-mammals. So explain the researchers, Yinan Wang, Yongxin Pan, Stuart Parsons, Michael Walker, and Shuyi Zhang, who are from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, East China Normal University in Shanghai, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Cloud Lightning

Update! Bay storms leave 100 fishermen dead in Bangladesh

Coast guards and police in the rain-swept fishing port of Barguna in southern Bangladesh on Sunday confirmed the deaths of at least 100 fishermen.

A score of fishing trawlers were also wrecked by the rough waves in the storm-battered Bay of Bengal, Barguna's district administrator Selim Khan said.

Earlier reports on deaths and destruction said about 1,000 fishermen along with nearly 100 trawlers were missing in the high waves of the bay on Friday.

Cloud Lightning

Fresh downpours hinder relief effort in Africa

Hundreds of thousands of people were desperate for food and shelter across Africa Sunday, as record floods and fresh downpours hampered relief efforts.

The continent's worst floods in three decades have deprived some 1.5 million people of their homes and subsistence in 18 countries and killed close to 300.

©AFP
A Kenyan uses a canoe to cross through flood water in Budalangi.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake shakes Greek Dodecanese island, no injuries

ATHENS - A tremor with a magnitude of 5.6 shook the Dodecanese island of Karpathos in Southeastern Greece early on Sunday but causing no injuries, officials said.

Question

Puzzling sudden drowning in Florida blamed on 'bolt from the blue' lightning

Doctors said the injuries sustained by the two were consistent from a lightning strike.

But those on the river find that hard to believe.

The sky was clear. Harding even held an umbrella over the brothers to shade them from the sun. No one heard a noise or saw a flash.

Question

Miami: Religious Book Seller Struck By Lightning Beneath Blue Sky

A man making a trip from Puerto Rico to South Florida to raise money for his religious education remains hospitalized Monday after he was struck down by a bolt of lightning which flew from clear blue sky on Sunday. He was selling religious materials when he was hit.

Hailu Kidane Marian was working with members of his religious group, selling religious materials door-to-door in a Northwest Miami-Dade neighborhood, when the bolt from the blue struck him down.

Question

Miami: Lightning kills man beneath cloudless sky

With no rain or even clouds to warn him of the danger, death came literally out of the blue Thursday to a self-employed landscaper. The killer was a powerful bolt of lightning that cracked through perfectly clear skies.

David Canales, 41, of West Miami-Dade, was on the job at a Pinecrest home when the bolt hit. It first seared a tree, then traveled and struck Canales, standing nearby.

Experts said Canales was killed by a weather phenomenon fittingly called a ''bolt from the blue'' or ''dry lightning'' because it falls from clear, blue skies. He was pronounced dead at South Miami Hospital.

Cloud Lightning

Heavy rain and hailstorms bring travel chaos to Southern Spain

Heavy rain has brought chaos to Andalucia today, with roads and rail lines blocked. Several places in Sevilla Province, including Morón de la Frontera, Osuna and Montellano, have suffered flooding, while in Málaga province many inland towns and Marbella have reported huge hailstones which have broken the windows of literally hundreds of cars. It's estimated that around 500 cars were affected in Marbella alone. 18 people were treated for injuries caused by the hailstones.

©EFE
500 cars in Marbella saw their windscreens smashed by hailstones the size of golf balls.